How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?



The details surrounding EV charging and the cost involved are still hazy to some. We address the key questions here

Until very recently, one of the main reasons given by many for switching to an electric car was money saving. With the price of petrol and diesel still high, and showing no signs dropping significantly, an EV suddenly made lots of financial sense.

Yes these machines were often more expensive to buy or lease, but the far lower cost of ‘refuelling’ often meant that owners quickly offset the higher purchase price.

However, as the energy crisis continues to rumble on, stoked by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the subsequent inflation in prices of electricity, the swap from ICE to EV doesn’t appear so clear cut. This is especially true for public charging stations, with the cost topping up your battery using rapid DC units occasionally matching that of replenishing the tank with fossil fuels on a traditional motor.

And of course prices for domestic energy bills have also been hiked, making this previously cheap source of energy much pricier. The Government has even been forced to step in with assistance for those households that are struggling to meet the massively inflated costs of gas and electricity.

Yet does that mean it no longer makes as much financial sense to an EV, especially when you take into account the higher upfront cost? To uncover the facts, here’s our in-depth guide to the cost of charging an EV.

*How much will it cost to charge my car at home?*

According to the government-backed Go Ultra Low electric vehicle campaign, around 90% of owners charge their EVs at home, and this the cheapest way to charge. Obviously it depends on the car you’re charging and your electricity supplier’s tariff, but even with the recent hikes in electricity prices you’ll still be saving cash on every ‘refill’ compared to a traditional petrol or diesel engined car. 

For example, when plugging in a 64kWh Kia e-Niro with a claimed 281 mile range it should cost around £20 for a full charge, which is based on the current average cost of 34p per kWh.

Better still, invest in one of the latest ‘smart’ wallboxes and you can use an app on your phone to programme the unit to only charge when electricity is cheapest, typically overnight. Moreover, if your home has solar panels, then some chargers can use this ‘free’ energy to charge your EV, further reducing bills.

*How much will it cost to install a car charging point at home?*

It is possible to use the factory-supplied three-pin plug charger when refilling your car’s cells, but charging times are lengthy and most manufacturers claim this device is for emergency use only. 

Either way, if you’re committed to EV ownership and you have access to a driveway or garage, then it’s always best to use a dedicated wall-mounted unit, which can charge at up to 7kW, more than twice as fast as the three-pin alternative.

There are a number of different manufacturers to choose from, plus a choice of tethered (with a charging cable permanently attached) or untethered (allowing you to choose different sockets and cables for different cars) layouts. Regardless of which one makes most sense for your EV, you’ll need a qualified electrician to check your household wiring is up to the task, and then to install the box.

The good news is that the government is keen (although becoming less so by the day) for motorists to go green and is offering some decent subsidies, so if you have a unit fitted by an authorised installer, then the Office of Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) will stump up 75% of the overall cost up to a maximum of £350. Of course, the prices vary, but with the grant, you can expect to pay around £400 for a home charging station.

The not so good news is that the Government pulled the plug on the funding for this scheme for homeowners that reside in single unit properties (bungalows, detached, semi-detached and terraced housing) in April 2022. As a result, you’ll only now be eligible for the grant if you are the owner of a flat or apartment with dedicated off-street parking or live in rented accommodation (and have the landlord’s permission). If you live in Scotland, then bear in mind that the authorities there will add an extra £400 on top of the OZEV funding.

Also, bear in mind that, if you are a homeowner in a single unit property and still haven’t bought your EV then, a number of manufacturers are still offering a free wallbox and installation when you buy one of their electric models.

*How much will it cost at a public charging station?*

Again, this is dependent on your car and the way you use it, because there are numerous options when it comes to public charging stations. For instance, if you only need to charge when out and about infrequently, then a pay-as-you-go method is possible, costing between 20p and 70p per kWh, depending on whether you’re using a fast or rapid charger, the latter costing more to use. 

Recent arrival Instavolt works on this principle, requiring nothing more than contactless payment as when you need to top up, Other providers will charge an hourly rate (effectively a parking charge) plus a kWh charge for electricity consumed.

If you travel further afield more frequently, then providers such as BP Pulse offer a subscription service with a monthly fee of just under £8, which gives you discounted rates on many of its 9,000 chargers, plus free access to a handful of AC units. You’ll need a smartphone app to access them (or an RFID card for some of the older units), but once connected you’ll be billed at 55p per kWh on the rapid 50 and 150kWh chargers, and 44p per kWh on the 7kW devices.

It’s also possible to use many of the chargers on a pay-as-you-go basis with a contactless bank card, with a rate of 57p per kWh for 7kW AC chargers, or 69p per kWh for its 50kW and 150kW chargers respectively.

Rival oil company Shell has its Recharge network which has been rolling out 50kW and 150kW rapid chargers at its filling stations across the UK. These can be used on a contactless pay-as-you-go basis on a flat rate of 79p per kWh for its 50kWh Rapid chargers and 85p per kWh for its 150kW and 175kW Ultra Rapid chargers, which is around double the cost compared to a year ago.

These prices remain unchanged if you sign up to the Shell Recharge account, which bills you monthly for your use but also allows you to use over 250,000 chargers from over 250 providers across Europe.

It’s also worth noting there’s a £20 pre-authorisation requirement on your card each time you plug in, but Shell also claims all electricity for its chargers comes from renewable sources.

Bear in mind that some hotels and shopping centres offer free charging to customers. The widespread use of smartphone apps for all providers makes it easy to see where the charging points are, how much they cost to use and and whether they’re free, so you can easily tap into a provider that suits your needs and budget.

Many manufacturers also offer simplified charging by giving access to numerous providers under their own charging scheme. For instance, Audi’s E-tron Charging Service account gives access to nearly 20 different energy firms, while all new E-trons come with a voucher that’ll cover the first 1000 miles worth of charges for free.

Tesla owners get their own dedicated rapid-charging Supercharger network, plus a number of Destination fast chargers at locations such as hotels. Owners of a Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X registered before 2017 are eligible for free charging, while some owners received 6000 miles of free charging if they bought their cars between 15 December 2022 and 12 January 2023. For all other Tesla owners there will be a charge, which has jumped steeply in the last year from 28p per kWh to around 70p per kWh.

Tesla also charges ‘idle fees’ if you remain parked-up once your car is charged. If the Supercharger station is over 50 percent full then you’ll be charged 50p for every minute you’re parked in a fully charged car, which rises to £1 if the station is completely full.

Tesla has recently made some of its UK Superchargers available to owners of other brands of EV. At present the cost of charging at these locations with a non-Tesla vehicle is about 76p per kWh, which is about the average for rapid charging at other providers, although the delivery rate of up to 250kW is higher than most.

*How much does it cost for motorway charging?*

You’ll pay a little more to charge at a motorway service station, largely because most of the chargers there are fast or rapid units. Until recently, Ecotricity was the only provider at these locations, with around 300 chargers available, but it has now been joined by companies such as Ionity.

In the case of Ecotricity, it has recently sold its Electric Highway network of chargers to Gridserve, which has promised greater investment and more 350kW rapid chargers, including the 12 units just installed at Rugby Services in Warwickshire.

Over the rest of the Electric Highway network here’s the existing choice of both AC and DC charging options, all with a 45-minute maximum use time. There are only a handful of the 22kW AC fast chargers left and these cost 49p per kWh. The rapid DC chargers offer 120kW, 180 kW or 350kW charging and can be all be used on a pay-as-you-go basis for between 64 and 66p per kWh at both its motorway services locations and Gridserve Forecourts, which are essentially standalone hubs of main trunk roads and provide amenities such as cafes and newsagents The firm also recently slashed its pre-authorisation requirement from £20 to £1.

Rival firm Ionity costs a little more for pay-as-you-go customers with a price of 69p per kWh, but commercial tie-ins with EV manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar, entitles drivers of these cars to lower rates. On the plus side, all of its chargers are capable of charging at up to 350kW.

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